DFS NBA Full Court Press: FanDuel & DraftKings Main Slate – Mar. 22nd, 2023

DFS NBA Full Court Press: FanDuel & DraftKings Main Slate – Mar. 22nd, 2023

Main Slate Breakdown for NBA DFS 3/22:

Mar 19, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves (15) is doused with water bottles after the game against the Orlando Magic at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to another year of the DFS Army NBA Full Court Press! Members had a ton of success using the Full Court Press along with various articles and tools that DFS Army provides last season, so we are glad to be back with another year of the all-inclusive article. You have to start your research somewhere, and oftentimes going game by game and breaking down every matchup and its key players is the first step in our process. My name is Mike aka @MadnessDFS on Twitter, make sure to give me a follow as I’ll occasionally make updates to the advice in the article. But, you’ll mostly find me in our VIP coaching forums where I provide detailed lineup maneuvers and answer all lineup questions. With that said, let’s get it started!

Save $50 on a DFS Army NBA Season Pass with coupon code NBA2022

Before I get started, I need to shoutout a few huge VIP Member wins – “Phamacist” took 1st place in the $300k Fadeway contest which netted him $100k while “da_banditz” grabbed 1st place on FanDuel as well winning $10k- congrats guys!

Denver Nuggets @ Washington Wizards

Vegas Total: 227.0

Vegas Spread: Den -7.0

We’ll kick this slate off with the Nuggets, Nikola Jokic is going to look like a top spend-up option on the slate coming off of a big game against the Nets. He also dropped 82 DraftKings points in this matchup earlier this season and should be able to do whatever he wants again in this one. I don’t have any issues with Jamal Murray either, he isn’t as hot as he was a couple of weeks ago, but he’s going to play all the minutes he can handle in a great matchup. Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr. are similar options at similar price tags, I would probably prefer Gordon in cash while going to Porter Jr. in GPPs due to the volatility, but that’s splitting hairs, I don’t have a problem with either of these guys. Then we can round this team out with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as a roster-filling piece, but he’s not a guy we need to prioritize by any means. From the Wizards, Kyle Kuzma ended up missing yesterday’s game, and sounds like he has a legit sprained ankle, I’ll operate under the assumption that he’s out again in this one. We saw Corey Kispert get the start over Deni Avdija and would think they roll out that same lineup, but Deni is still going to get minutes off of the bench. Below is how this team operates with him off of the court this season:

Kristaps and Beal are my favorite options in a nice matchup against the Nuggets. Avdija did look good even off of the bench last night and makes sense in all formats as well. Gafford’s minutes become more secure when any of Kuzma or Kristaps are out and they’ll need his size to deal with Jokic down low.

5-star play: Nikola Jokic

4-star play: Aaron Gordon, Michael Porter Jr., Jamal Murray, Kristaps Porzingis, Bradley Beal

Deeper Value: None

GPP Sleeper: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Monte Morris, Deni Avdija, Corey Kispert, Daniel Gafford

New York Knicks @ Miami Heat

Vegas Total: 224.5

Vegas Spread: Mia -2.0

Starting with the Knicks, Julius Randle had a massive game last time out and dropped 57 actual points against the Wolves and the price tag hasn’t really moved. That said, this is a much more difficult matchup and should be a slower-paced game. Jalen Brunson bounced back nicely as well and is a few hundred dollars too cheap, but again, a tough matchup on a big slate. Immanuel Quickley is too expensive with Brunson back in there, so we can jump off of that train for now. Guys like RJ Barrett and Josh Hart are probably secondary options due to the volatility but the minutes are solid on both of them and I would have no issues using either of them as a roster filler. Finally, Mitchell Robinson is having some issues with the coaching staff but his price tag is too cheap, and should play good minutes yet again if you need a cheaper center option. From the Heat, Jimmy Butler has been much more consistent as of late with at least 47 DraftKings points in four of his last five games, and will be a guy I have no issue going right back to in this one. Bam Adebayo has been in much better form over his last few games as well, all the minutes will be there as well, and makes sense in all formats. Tyler Herro is a bit too volatile for me to love in cash games but makes plenty of sense in tournaments. Then the rest of this team is more secondary/GPP options than anything on a big slate with guys like Caleb Martin, Max Strus, and Kevin Love.

5-star play: Julius Randle, Jimmy Butler

4-star play: Jalen Brunson, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro

Deeper Value: None

GPP Sleeper: RJ Barrett, Josh Hart, Mitchell Robinson, Tyler Herro, Caleb Martin, Max Strus, Kevin Love

Quick shoutout to VIP member “Cenzamatic” on a massive $20k win last season! Sometimes paying up for double studs works, and Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant brought it home for him with the help of some Stanley Johnson and Pistons value. Good work and congrats man!

Indiana Pacers @ Toronto Raptors

Vegas Total: 234.5

Vegas Spread: Tor -9.0

We’ll start with the Pacers, Tyrese Haliburton comes in as questionable after missing their last five games. I’m going to operate under the assumption he’s out again, but keep an eye on the Breaking News Feed as we get closer to lock. Andrew Nembhard has been getting the start at point guard with TJ McConnell coming off of the bench. Below is how this team operates with Haliburton off of the court this season:

Bennedict Mathurin ended up starting over Jordan Nwora last time out and played good minutes. He’s going to look good again in this one assuming he’s back in that starting lineup. With Nwora moving to the bench, he’s probably a bit overpriced but the minutes should still be there and we know he can light it up in short run. From the Raptors, Pascal Siakam has been in much better form over his last three games with at least 44 DraftKings points in three straight. He hasn’t been in great form since the All-Star break, with that said. He’s more of a GPP option for me, but the matchup is elite against this Pacers team. Fred VanVleet has looked great and the matchup is just as good, he’s going to be a guy I want to go back to as well in this one. Jakob Poeltl has been extremely consistent as of late and will make sense in all formats. Scottie Barnes got banged up last time out but doesn’t sound like it’s all that serious, so I would expect him to play and play all those minutes we’re used to seeing from him.  Then guys like OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. make sense as filler pieces to round out this team.

5-star play: Fred VanVleet

4-star play: Andrew Nembhard, Buddy Hield, Bennedict Mathurin, Myles Turner, Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, Jakob Poeltl

Deeper Value: None

GPP Sleeper: Aaron Nesmith, TJ McConnell, Jordan Nwora, Gary Trent Jr., OG Anunoby

Golden State Warriors @ Dallas Mavericks

Vegas Total: 234.5

Vegas Spread: Gsw -2.0

Starting with the Warriors, Steph Curry had a rough first half last time out but you’re never out of it with him as he got hot in the second half to salvage his day. He gets an elite matchup against a Mavs team that isn’t playing any sort of defense and any time he’s under $10k he’ll be a guy I want to get exposure to. Jordan Poole and Klay Thompson have seen their price tags come down to a more playable range with Curry back in there. I would prefer getting to Klay over Poole still even with the pricing difference, but Klay has just been in better form… again, the matchup is elite. Draymond Green is a fine option, but never a guy I feel the need to prioritize. Donte DiVincenzo should remain in the starting lineup until Andrew Wiggins returns but hasn’t been in the best form as of late, we can probably do better on a big slate. Finally, Kevon Looney has been in much better form as of late with at least 27 FanDuel points in five of his last six games. From the Mavs, Luka Doncic and Kryie Irving both come into this one as questionable, so we’ll need to watch that Breaking News Feed for updates, but I’ll operate under the assumption that they’re both back just due to the spread in this one. They’re the main pieces I would want on this team and would look like elite options in all formats… I wouldn’t expect either of them to see any sort of minutes limit. Christian Wood has been floating around that 30-minute mark in four of his last five games and is a guy that is going to look great anytime those minutes are there… but Jason Kidd hates him, so he’s a GPP-only option. Then guys like Josh Green and Tim Hardaway are fine GPP flyers but take big hits in their rates with these guys back in there.

5-star play: Steph Curry, Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving

4-star play: Klay Thompson, Kevon Looney, Draymond Green

Deeper Value: None

GPP Sleeper: Jordan Poole, Donte DiVincenzo, Christian Wood, Josh Green, Tim Hardaway

Philadelphia 76ers @ Chicago Bulls

Vegas Total: 221.5

Vegas Spread: Phi -3.5

Starting with the Sixers, Joel Embiid has been in elite form with at least 54 DraftKings points in nine straight games, he’s going to be up there with the other spend-up guys as a great option. James Harden had a tough game in 47 minutes last time out but has been one of the more consistent fantasy producers over the last couple of months and is a guy I want to go back to assuming he plays, as he does come in as questionable yet again. The price tag on Tyrese Maxey is too high for me to go back to with Harden in there even after a big game filling in for him last time out. Then Tobias Harris and De’Anthony Melton are fine roster fillers in GPPs if you land on them. They’re in a similar boat as Maxey, however, they had big games with Harden out last game and their prices have adjusted for that… all that said, if Harden ends up sitting again, we can go right back to these guys. From the Bulls, Zach LaVine bounced back nicely last time out and is now averaging 45.3 DraftKings points per game in three games against the Sixers this season. DeMar DeRozan has been on a heater and kept it rolling last time out. He has at least 47 FanDuel points in four of his last five games, so I have no issue going back to him in this one. Then the last of the “big three”, Nikola Vucevic, makes sense as a secondary option but will have his hands full with Embiid down low. Guys like Patrick Williams and Patrick Beverley are GPP roster fillers to round out this team.

5-star play: Joel Embiid, James Harden

4-star play: Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic

Deeper Value: None

GPP Sleeper: Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, De’Anthony Melton, Patrick Williams, Patrick Beverley

Houston Rockets @ Memphis Grizzlies

Vegas Total: 231.5

Vegas Spread: Mem -12.5

Starting with the Rockets, Kevin Porter Jr. has been playing all of the minutes he can handle as of late but has seen a slight price increase. This game will be fast-paced and I think he looks like a solid option in all formats. Jalen Green is in a similar boat but comes at a nice discount to Porter Jr. and is a guy I like going to here as well. Alperen Sengun has been floating in that 30-40 fantasy point range and is a fine secondary option in all formats. Then guys like KJ Martin and Jabari Smith are solid secondary options, Smith has shown a nice ceiling as of late. From the Grizzlies, it sounds like they’re going to get Ja Morant back in this one but they’ve floated some rumors that he might start out by coming off of the bench. Keep an eye on the starting lineup, if he’s staring I think we can go right back to him here, but I don’t think I would want to go to him off of the bench. He’s too cheap if he’s starting in his normal role in an elite matchup. We can immediately jump off of the Tyus Jones train with Ja back in there, he’s just overpriced. Dillon Brooks is suspended in this one due to all the technical fouls he has this season, so guys like Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson probably see a few more shots and make sense as GPP options, but they’ll lose more usage than they gain with Ja back in there. Then Xavier Tillman is a solid mid-range center option if you land in that price range.

5-star play: Ja Morant (if starting)

4-star play: Kevin Porter Jr, Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson, Xavier Tillman

Deeper Value: None

GPP Sleeper: KJ Martin, Jabari Smith, Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson

Be sure to check out our PrizePicks tool as well which provides our projection in relation to the PrizePicks line giving us max leverage to hammer home those best prop spots. Our props team has been killing it! CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT.

San Antonio Spurs @ Milwaukee Bucks

Vegas Total: 237.5

Vegas Spread: Mil -18.0

Starting with the Spurs, we don’t have an injury report on them and this team is pretty impossible to break down until we know who’s in and who’s out… so I’m going to leave them for our Breaking News Feed – check out that page for a breakdown once we have more news on them. From the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo has been awesome over his last few games and should be able to do whatever he wants in this one. I do worry about a blowout in this one and Giannis is a guy I want to play in close games where he’ll get closer to his minutes’ ceiling. He’s on the lower end of those other spend-up options strictly due to the potential blowout. I don’t love the price tag on Jrue Holiday but he’s a fine tournament option if you want to get exposure, but it continues to climb. Khris Middleton is a solid option at this price tag as well, but again, I just don’t trust this game to stay close enough. Then, Brook Lopez continues to be one of the more consistent center options in the league, I’m fine going back to him in tournaments as well while guys like Grayson Allen and Pat Connaughton are tournament guys in MME.

5-star play: SAS TBD, Giannis Antetokounmpo

4-star play: SAS TBD, Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez

Deeper Value: None

GPP Sleeper: SAS TBD, Grayson Allen, Pat Connaughton

Atlanta Hawks @ Minnesota Timberwolves

Vegas Total: 241.5

Vegas Spread: Min -4.0

Starting with the Hawks, Dejounte Murray ended up missing their game last night and would assume he comes into this one as questionable as well, so we’ll have to keep an eye on the Breaking News Feed for updates, but for the sake of this article, I’ll operate under the assumption that he’s good to go. The matchup is solid and we know the minutes will be there if he’s active. Trae Young is obviously my preferred option, he dropped 59.5 DraftKings points in this matchup earlier this season and looks like a great option yet again. Clint Capela is an awesome per-minute producer but the issue with him is always the minutes. He’s a perfect GPP option due to that, but if you land on him in cash or single entry I’m good with it, we saw just that last night. Onyeka Okongwu has actually outproduced him lately but is in that same boat as Capela. John Collins has been more productive since the coaching change and makes sense here as well. De’Andre Hunter isn’t a guy we need to prioritize but makes sense if you land on him as a last piece in. The same can be said for Bogdan Bogdanovic to round out this team, all of these wings/guards would see a boost if Murray is forced to miss again. From the Wolves, it sounds like Karl-Anthony Towns is going to play tonight but will more than likely be on a minutes restriction due to missing their last 51 games… he won’t be a guy we can play tonight, but worth noting that he’s finally returning. Anthony Edwards ended up missing their last game and has now missed their last few with what feels like a semi-serious ankle injury. I’ll operate under the assumption that he sits again here, but keep an eye on the Breaking News Feed for updates. Below is how this team operates with Edwards off of the court this season:

Prince had just a stupid game last time out, he shot 8 for 8 from beyond the three-point line and if people are going to chase that, let them… I’ll be underweight on him again in this one. Then Jaylen Nowell returned last time out and should see a nice boost off of the bench if Edwards is forced to miss again as well.

5-star play: Trae Young

4-star play: Dejounte Murray, Clint Capela, John Collins, Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley, Kyle Anderson

Deeper Value: None

GPP Sleeper: Bogdan Bogdanovic, De’Andre Hunter, Onyeka Okongwu, Taurean Prince, Jaden McDaniels, Jaylen Nowell

Portland Trail Blazers @ Utah Jazz

Vegas Total: 234.5

Vegas Spread: Uta -4.5

Starting with the Blazers, they’ll be without Jerami Grant and Anfernee Simons again in this one, so I would imagine to see guys like Cam Reddish and Trendon Watford back in the starting lineup. Below is how this team operates with these two off of the court this season:

The obvious guy here is Dame, those rates are insane, and is a guy that is going to look like an elite spend-up option tonight. Nurkic had a big game last time out as well and is a guy I have no issue going right back to the well with. Watford returned to the bench last time out but still saw close to 30 minutes, but I would imagine he’s back in that starting lineup with Simons out here as well. Then guys like Reddish and Thybulle are fine secondary options. From the Jazz, they’ll be without Jordan Clarkson while Lauri Markkanen comes in as questionable, but I’ll operate under the assumption that he’s good to go here and would look like a nice option in all formats considering the matchup. Talen Horton-Tucker only saw 21 minutes last time out and the price tag is way up, if Markkanen is back in there I’ll probably be underweight but he’s been good as of late. Walker Kessler has been one of the more consistent centers since the break and makes sense in all formats here, the Blazers bleed fantasy points to opposing big men. Then Kelly Olynyk looks great as well coming off of a big game last time out.

5-star play: Damian Lillard

4-star play: Trendon Watford, Jusuf Nurkic, Lauri Markkanen, Walker Kessler, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kelly Olynyk

Deeper Value: None

GPP Sleeper: Cam Reddish, Matisse Thybulle, Talen Horton-Tucker, Ochai Agbaji

Phoenix Suns @ Los Angeles Lakers

Vegas Total: 230.5

Vegas Spread: Pho -1.0

Starting with the Suns, they’ll be without Kevin Durant for the next few weeks but does sound like he’d play if it were the playoffs, so some hope for Suns fans… but they’ll also be without Deandre Ayton as well. With Ayton out they’ll have to go to Jock Landale or Bismack Biyombo as their starting big man, whoever starts will look like a great value option while the guy coming off of the bench would be a fine GPP pivot. Devin Booker bounced back nicely last time out and is a guy I have no issue going right back to in this one. Chris Paul is in that same boat and is a guy I like going to anytime he matches up with his good buddy LeBron (even though he’s not playing). Then guys like Josh Okogie and Torrey Craig make sense with Durant out and should pick up some additional minutes. From the Lakers, Anthony Davis will continue to look like a nice spend-up option with LeBron out as well. He sees a boost with Ayton out for the Suns as well, he should do whatever he wants in the paint. D’Angelo Russell is a fine option but not a guy I think we need to prioritize, he’s more of a secondary option. Austin Reaves dropped a 50-burger last time out and has seen his minutes trend in the right direction, I think he’s a solid secondary option as well. Then guys like Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley are fine secondary options to round out the team and this slate.

5-star play: Devin Booker, Jock Landale/Bismack Biyombo (whoever starts), Anthony Davis

4-star play: Jock Landale/Bismack Biyombo (whoever doesn’t start), Chris Paul, D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves

Deeper Value: None

GPP Sleeper: Josh Okogie, Torrey Craig, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley

NBA Lock of the Day: Damian Lillard (DK – $10.5k; FD – $10.3k)

At this point in the day, I think Dame is my favorite spend-up option on the slate. The Blazers will be without Anfernee Simons and Jerami Grant in this one and Dame has a 40.6% usage rate and 1.81 fantasy points per minute with them off of the court and the matchup is elite against this Jazz team. At this point in the day, I would think he makes my core, but check out our VIP Cheat Sheets as we get closer to lock for staff picks on Core plays, 8x locks of the day, and tiers notes as well!

The only thing you are missing at this point is the key to unlock the next level of your game.  Come inside and check us out!!  We have experts sharing their secrets and experience on a daily basis.  Combining that with the actual ability to ask them questions and get quick answers in return gives you a recipe for success that puts our army hats on leaderboards all over the face of DFS.

When you sign up, don’t forget to use promo code MADNESS to save 10% on your membership each and every month!

Editor’s Note – However, if you are more interested in simply betting the games, NBA is full of crazy action.  And, our dynamic modeling over at SharpBets adjusts in real time to help identify Vegas inaccuracies you can exploit.  Follow Ryan, Anthony, and Statsational for models and coaching advice that help you build any bankroll for any sport…

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2023 NFL Draft: Revisiting the strongest, weakest position groups

2023 NFL Draft: Revisiting the strongest, weakest position groups

• The 2023 quarterback class is fairly strong: There is a quarterback worthy of the first overall pick and several other quarterbacks who possess top-10 and even top-five talent.

• Not much promise at linebacker: This year’s class might be completely void of first-round talent —  Iowa’s Jack Campbell and Arkansas’ Drew Sanders are currently the only linebackers projected to be fringe first-round picks.

• All eyes on edge defender: We currently have 14 edge rushers in the top 64 of our big board. Over the previous eight drafts, the record for most edge defenders taken in the first two rounds is 12.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Earlier in the offseason, PFF looked into the talent at each position group in the 2023 NFL Draft, highlighting the strong edge and tight end classes and the weak wide receiver and linebacker classes.

The weeks since have brought the NFL scouting combine, pro days and our subsequent big board update, so it’s time for us to take a second look at each position group.

For this iteration, we are partnering with Benjamin Robinson‘s GrindingTheMocks.com to use consensus mock draft data to learn more about this year’s prospects. This data not only helps us investigate the talent at each position but also fuels the computer-simulated picks for PFF’s mock draft simulator.

Overview of positional strength

We measure the strength of each position in a given draft class by the draft capital allocated to the position. To quantify draft capital, we use our own PFF WAR draft chart. You can find a more detailed explanation in last year’s version of this article.

We then compare the draft capital allocated to each position over the last eight drafts to the projected draft capital allocated to each position in 2023.

The allocation may change come draft time, but it’s currently the natural way to measure each position’s strength in a way comparable to the actual drafts from past years.

Here is an overview of the offensive positions.

The last three drafts have been record-breaking in terms of the number of highly drafted wide receivers, and most of them haven’t disappointed in the NFL.

This year might be different, as we are currently looking at a class with only five or six top-50 prospects, in stark contrast to a 2022 class that produced six wide receivers who went off the board within the first 18 picks.

Another position group that looks much bleaker than last year is interior offensive line. The 2022 draft featured three consensus blue-chip first-round talents in Tyler Linderbaum, Kenyon Green and Zion Johnson. This year, O’Cyrus Torrence is currently the only borderline first-round talent.

We proceed with the overview of the defensive positions:

Edge rushers stand out on this chart, which is unsurprising, given that our big board currently features 13 edge rushers in the top 50 and seven in the top 32.

On the other end of the spectrum, linebacker shapes up to be a fairly weak position in this year’s draft as it might be completely void of first-round talent —  Iowa’s Jack Campbell and Arkansas’ Drew Sanders are currently the only linebackers who are projected to be fringe first-round picks.

A deeper look can help teams make the right draft decisions

The overview is definitely nice to have, but when a team has the 25th overall pick, they need to have a concrete idea of whether a certain position is strong because there is a lot of top-15 talent and a deep Day 2 or whether the position is strong because of several late first-round prospects who would most likely be available when the team is on the clock.

For that reason, we have created charts that show the available talent at each position at each point in the draft. The charts compare that talent to the ceiling, floor and average of the last eight drafts.

We start with the most important position — quarterback.

The chart consists of three lines and two series of points.

The blue (the middle line) describes how many quarterbacks have been taken on average with the first X selections in the last eight drafts. The green (top line) line describes the maximum number of quarterbacks taken with the first X selections in the last eight drafts, and the orange (bottom line) line describes the minimum number.

For example, the maximum number of quarterbacks taken with the first 15 picks is five, which occurred two years ago with Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields and Mac Jones all coming off the board early.

The minimum of quarterbacks taken in the first two rounds (first 64 picks) is two, as only Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota came off the board early in 2015.

On average, there have been between three and four quarterback selections in the first round.

Basically, the three lines give us a mean expectation and a range for how many players at a given position are taken through X selections. The points show us the number of players at the position through rank X of the 2023 big board.

Click here for more PFF draft tools:

Mock Draft Simulator | 2023 NFL Draft Big Board | 2023 NFL Draft Guide

In the above chart, the yellow points describe the board ranks of the quarterbacks on the PFF big board, and the purple line describes the board ranks of quarterbacks on the GrindingTheMocks consensus big board.

Loosely speaking, we can spot a weak class by looking at points below the average line, and we can spot a strong class by points above the average line.

This means we have a fairly strong quarterback class this year, with a quarterback worthy of the first overall pick and several other quarterbacks with top-10 and even top-five talent. However, we can also see that there is very little Day 2 talent, so finding the next Jalen Hurts could prove to be difficult.

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NFL rumors: 3 teams that need DeAndre Hopkins trade to contend

NFL rumors: 3 teams that need DeAndre Hopkins trade to contend

DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals, NFL rumors

DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts as he takes the field prior to an NFL football game between the Arizona Cardinals and the New Orleans Saints at State Farm Stadium on October 20, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals have been actively shopping DeAndre Hopkins, and a trade is on the way because of it. 

According to NFL insider Ian Rapoport, trade talks centering around DeAndre Hopkins are ramping up. As a result of this development, it appears that a move could very well come to fruition shortly.

Hopkins is a high-impact wide receiver who has been garnering plenty of attention on the trade market, and it ultimately makes sense. He has the potential to improve an NFL’s club offense immensely, as he is a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro. As a result, teams that are looking to become legitimate contenders need to go all-in and try to win the Hopkins sweepstakes.

Let’s now look at three teams who need to be major players in the Hopkins race now.

NFL rumors: 3 teams that need DeAndre Hopkins trade to contend

3. New England Patriots

The New England Patriots already made one move at the wide receiver position this offseason, signed JuJu Smith-Schuster. However, they should be looking to add another star receiver to their group before the start of the season in response to losing Jakobi Meyers to the Las Vegas Raiders. Thus, Hopkins needs to be a player on their radar.

The Patriots finished this past season with an underwhelming 8-9 record and missed the postseason because of it. When noting that New England always wants to be among the league’s contenders, this is unacceptable, so they need a player like Hopkins to get things back on track. Perhaps adding a star receiver like Hopkins could allow QB Mac Jones to take that next step and develop into a truly elite signal-caller.

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How the Detroit Lions restored the roar with their new secondary in free agency

How the Detroit Lions restored the roar with their new secondary in free agency

In 2022, the Detroit Lions finished with a 9-8 record, just missing the playoffs right at the end of the regular season, and compiling the franchise’s first winning record since 2017. The Lions and head coach Dan Campbell did so despite a defense that ranked 28th in Defensive DVOA, and a secondary that allowed opposing offenses to put up some pretty garish numbers. The Lions’ cornerbacks and safeties allowed 171 completions on 295 attempts for 2,657 yards, 17 touchdowns, eight interceptions, and an opponent passer rating of 95.8, which was the fourth-worst in the NFL behind only the Titans, Chiefs, and Panthers. Detroit’s EPA allowed of 28.18 among their secondary was also the NFL’s fourth-worst, behind the Raiders, Bears, and Falcons, and their Positive Play Rate allowed of 47.1% was the NFL’s sixth-worst.

Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes knew that changes needed to be made if the Lions were to take a major step forward in 2023, and with two picks (sixth and 19th) in the first round of the upcoming draft, most everybody has auto-slotting the best available cornerback prospect to Detroit with that first pick in their mock drafts. That may still happen when mocks become reality in the last week of April, but the Lions’ braintrust also knew that they didn’t want to wait until the draft to start sorting it all out — free agency would have to provide more than one piece of the puzzle.

To the credit of that braintrust, the Lions went all-out and got three new members of their secondary; all potential impact players on team-friendly deals.

  • Cornerback Cameron Sutton signed a three-year, $33 million contract with $22.5 million guaranteed;

  • Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley signed a one-year, $6 million deal with $2 million guaranteed; and

  • Safety/slot defender C.J. Gardner-Johnson signed a one-year, $8 million contract.

And with that, the Lions completely remade their secondary for less than other teams might spend on one really good cornerback. It was a series of masterstrokes by Holmes and his staff, and here’s why these deals will matter so much for defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and his staff.

Emmanuel Moseley: The aggressor

(Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

The 49ers signed Moseley as an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee for the 2018 season, and after four years in the league. Moseley has never allowed a three-digit opponent passer rating in any season. He gave up a 99.8 rating in 2020, the season after he became more prominent after replacing Ahkello Witherspoon, but he quickly got things back on track over the next two seasons. In 2022, though he suffered a torn ACL and played in just five games, Moseley allowed just 13 catches on 20 targets for 135 yards, 53 yards after the catch, no touchdowns, one interception, five pass breakups, and an opponent passer rating of 63.5. Like a lot of players in the 49ers’ defense, Moseley got a lot better once former defensive coordinator and current Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans was in charge.

At 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, Moseley is efficient in both man and zone coverages, and he’s especially adept at taking one receiver through the route and shutting him down. This is not a guy who has to hand things off to better defenders when his more estimable targets go deep.

You can see that on this denial of former Panthers and current Bears star receiver D.J. Moore on a deep over in Week 5…

As long as Moseley stays healthy, he’ll be a great new cog in Detroit’s cornerback group. And he has an old college teammate by his side.

Cameron Sutton: The technician

(Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports)

When Moseley showed up at Tennessee to see if he wanted to commit there, his host for the day was Cameron Sutton, who was already in the Vols’ defensive backfield. Funny how things work out.

“Years later, full circle, we are playing with each other,” Moseley said at his first Lions press conference last Thursday. “That’s pretty cool. He was on one side and I was on one side. I always learned from him, and he learned from me. He’s always been that big brother to me, and I’m pretty sure he’s going to do the same thing here.”

Not that Sutton needs help at this point in his career. The Steelers selected him in the third round of the 2017 draft, and Sutton expanded his snap counts in each of his first five NFL seasons. In 2022, he had his best year in coverage to date with 36 catches allowed on 71 targets for 411 yards, 132 yards after the catch, four touchdowns, three interceptions, 12 pass breakups, and an opponent passer rating of 69.6.

While Moseley is more of a pure outside cornerback, Sutton has experience in the slot, as well — he’s the more versatile player. The slot is where he told Mac Jones that there would be no soup for him on this Week 2 crosser to Jakobi Meyers…

If you want to know how well Sutton handles things along the formation, check out this pass breakup from Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase in that same Week 1 game. Sutton had Mike Thomas outside to start, but he had the acumen to break off and prevent the touchdown against one of the NFL’s most formidable duos.

Sutton might be the glue that holds this new secondary together, but the player who could stand out the most comes up next, and he has quite a bit of experience with Detroit’s current defensive coordinator.

C.J. Gardner-Johnson: The do-it-all guy

(Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)

The Saints got a steal with C.J. Gardner-Johnson in the fourth round of the 2019 draft out of Florida, and at the time, New Orleans had two prominent names on its coaching staff: Dan Campbell as the assistant head coach and tight ends coach, and Aaron Glenn as the defensive backs coach. Glenn’s relationship with Gardner-Johnson goes back to Gardner-Johnson’s high school days, when Glenn coached him at an all-star camp.

“The lesson [Glenn] taught me was that to become a better player over time you have to invest in your craft,” Gardner-Johnson said on Monday after his addition to Detroit’s defense. “That was the best advice I ever took from him.

“It’s like a father-son relationship. When I mess up, even when I wasn’t playing for him, when I messed up, I’d text him and say, ‘Did you see it, or not see it?’ The relationship with him just being there helping me get better every day. I remember him telling me, ‘By the time I get you again, where I’m going to be at, you’re going to be exactly where I need you to be.’”

The Saints traded Gardner-Johnson to the Eagles last August, and I loved that deal for Philadelphia at that time.

I loved it even more for Philadelphia after a season in which Gardner-Johnson, as a safety and slot defender, allowed 41 catches on 52 targets for 338 yards, 170 yards after the catch, three touchdowns, three pass breakups, six interceptions (tied for the league lead with three other players), and an opponent passer rating of 79.8.

Every great defense has at least one deep safety who can roll with a cornerback to help erase a top opposing receiver, and on this breakup of a Taylor Heinicke fade ball to Terry McLaurin in Week 10, Gardner-Johnson proved able to fill that role.

The Lions no doubt remember what Gardner-Johnson did to this Jared Goff pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown in his first regular-season game with the Eagles.

How good can this secondary be?

(Syndication: Detroit Free Press)

The inevitable adjustment period for any new group of defenders might be mitigated to a point by Gardner-Johnson’s relationship with this coaching staff, and by the college time Moseley and Sutton enjoyed together. All three players have attributes that place them well in man coverage, which makes sense — in 2022, the Lions faced the NFL’s second-most pass defense attempts in Cover-0, Cover-1, and 2-Man (behind only the Dolphins) with 209, allowing 110 completions for 1,717 yards, nine touchdowns, five interceptions, 23 pass breakups, and an opponent passer rating of 84.6.

Where the Lions really ate dirt was in zone coverage last season — they allowed 175 completions on 250 attempts in Cover-2, Cover-3, Cover-4, and Cover-6 for 2,205 yards, eight touchdowns, three interceptions, seven pass breakups, and a league-worst opponent passer rating of 102.8.

Obliviously, zone defense requires communication, so there might be a few rough spots as everybody gets on the same page. But given where this secondary was last season, the Lions would gladly trade any short-term rough spots for the payoff down the road. And with the personnel they’ve added in free agency, the Lions are wise to bet on the over in improvement.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire

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Seahawks cut Woods as D-line revamp continues

Seahawks cut Woods as D-line revamp continues

The Seattle Seahawks have released veteran defensive tackle Al Woods, the team announced Monday.

The move clears $3.67 million in cap space and continues the overhaul of Seattle’s defensive line. The Seahawks released Shelby Harris and Quinton Jefferson last week, and have now moved on from Woods, their defensive co-captain in 2022.

Woods, who turns 36 on Saturday, started 14 games last season. He recorded 39 tackles, two sacks and five tackles for loss while primarily serving as an early-down run defender in his third stint with Seattle.

He appeared in two games for the Seahawks in 2011, returned in 2019 and then signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020 only to take a COVID-19 opt-out. He returned to Seattle last offseason on a two-year, $9 million deal. His release incurs $1.75 million in dead money.

The Seahawks struggled mightily against the run while breaking in a new 3-4 scheme last year, prompting them to remake their defensive line over the first week of free agency. Seattle signed Dre’Mont Jones to a three-year, $51.53 million deal and also brought back another defensive tackle in Jarran Reed.

Poona Ford, one of the regulars on Seattle’s defensive line since 2019, remains a free agent.

General manager John Schneider said on his Seattle Sports Radio show last week that the Seahawks are still talking to “a number” of defensive linemen.

Woods, a fourth-round pick by the Saints in 2010, has also played for the Buccaneers, Steelers, Titans and Colts.

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2023 NFL Draft: Comparing the consensus top prospects in this year's class to former infamous draft busts

2023 NFL Draft: Comparing the consensus top prospects in this year's class to former infamous draft busts

Call me weird as an NFL Draft analyst — I love pro comparisons. Adore them. Spend way too much time formulating them for prospects every draft season. 

Of course, comparisons are always “stylistic” and not solely based on things like height, weight or college program. And because I take them seriously and do so many, many comparisons for prospects aren’t exactly superstars at the NFL level. 

I will say, in most cases, the top prospects in every class are universally compared to established stars. But even if you follow the draft on a casual level you know — many first-round picks never reach star superstar status, and in fact, “bust.”

With that thought in mind, let’s compare the consensus top prospects in the 2023 class to former infamous draft busts. Hat tip to Purple Insider’s Matthew Coller for this idea. 

(VITAL DISCLAIMER: These are not my legitimate comparisons for these prospects. It’s just for fun.)

QB Bryce Young (Alabama)

Bust comparison: Zach Wilson

  • Pick and year: No. 2 overall, 2021 draft (Jets)
  • College: BYU

Too soon? Yeah, maybe. But it’s apt so I’m running with it. Let me explain.

Wilson was a little bigger than Young at 6-foot-2 and 214 pounds but, like Young, he had a narrow-shouldered frame. The two quarterbacks finished their collegiate careers with a similar amount of experience and each had a flair for creative ad-libbing and were deceptively smooth athletes running with the football. Especially in Wilson’s final, truly breakout campaign at BYU, when he completed more than 73.5% of his passes with 33 touchdowns to just three interceptions, the young passer threw with pinpoint accuracy and anticipation to all levels of the field. 

Wilson wasn’t pressured as frequently as Young was in college, yet the poise avoiding pressure and calmness amid the chaos for both quarterbacks made them premier prospects in their respective classes. 

DT Jalen Carter (Georgia)

Bust comparison: Marcell Dareus

  • Pick and year: No. 3 overall, 2011 draft (Bills)
  • College: Alabama

Carter and Dareus are close stylistic specimens, three-down thumpers equally as disruptive as run defenders as they were pass rushers in college. They checked all the boxes teams want out of a marquee defensive tackle prospect. 

The off-field concerns run parallel, too. Dareus unfortunately lost many people close to him during his early years and through his time in the NFL, which likely had an affect on him, and thereby shortened what should’ve been a long, productive NFL career. Conditioning was a problem at times as well. This comparison isn’t all bad because Dareus was a first-team All-Pro in 2014 and played in the NFL from 2011 to 2019. 

But in a first round with Cam Newton, Von Miller, A.J. Green, Julio Jones, J.J. Watt, and Patrick Peterson, Dareus fell short of the lofty expectations that come with being the No. 3 overall selection in the draft. If Carter never maximizes his full potential as a professional, it’ll likely be because of the “character issues” we’ve heard about at length during this pre-draft process. 

QB Will Levis (Kentucky)

Bust comparison: Jake Locker

  • Pick and year: No. 8 overall, 2011 draft (Titans)
  • College: Washington

Thick, physical, rocket-armed quarterback with decision-making and accuracy issues who also boasts serious explosiveness as an emphatic runner when needed. That’s the one-sentence scouting report on Locker and Levis. Now, just because their games can be explained with the same quick description, that doesn’t mean Levis is destined to be Locker 2.0, who flamed out of the NFL after only 23 starts. 

But if Levis flops after being selected in the first round of the 2023 draft, it’ll resemble Locker’s wade into bust territory. Locker never could string together games with smart decisions. He always trusted his arm too much, and his accuracy was too scattershot. It doesn’t feel like Levis is as erratic, but the misses do appear on film, and the athletic profiles and similarly in their running propensity can’t be ignored. 

QB C.J. Stroud (Ohio State)

Bust comparison: Sam Bradford

  • Pick and year: No. 1 overall, 2010 draft (Rams)
  • College: Oklahoma

Another selection that wasn’t a colossal bust. Sam Bradford won Rookie of the Year in 2010 and led the NFL in completion percentage in 2016. He attempted nearly 3,000 passes and threw for over 19,000 yards as a professional. 

But Stroud and Bradford are clearly comparable — both highly accurate, mostly pocket passers with some mobility, but relative to their eras, are not high-caliber, scrambling types. Like Bradford, it’s unlikely Stroud will be able to lean on his legs as a last resort when coverage is perfect or protection breaks down. And the lack of mobility led to many of Bradford’s injuries in the NFL; he simply couldn’t get out of the way of massive defensive front players and linebackers as often as he needed to. Of course, Stroud doesn’t enter the NFL with the injury history Bradford had at Oklahoma, yet despite a long-held thought that athleticism and scrambling represent the strongest correlations to quarterback injuries in the NFL, it’s actually the absence of those attributes.

QB Anthony Richardson (Florida)

Bust comparison: Vince Young

  • Pick and year: No. 3 overall, 2006 draft (Titans)
  • College: Texas

Certainly not as large and sculpted as Richardson, Young was probably a more feared runner when entering the NFL after his illustrious, national-title winning career at Texas. He had back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons and scored 37 touchdowns on the ground with the Longhorns. Preposterous numbers. 

Young doesn’t have Richardson’s arm talent either. Like Richardson, though, it was the needed development as a passer that gave many pause about Young’s ability to mature into a franchise quarterback in the NFL and ultimately played a key on-field role to his downfall at the professional level. There were likely other, external, off-field factors that led to Young bouncing around the league before early retirement. He never became a rhythmic, reliable passer. Had he, the 2006 Rookie of the Year likely would’ve had a long career as the leader of the Titans organization. 

RB Bijan Robinson (Texas)

Bust comparison: Trent Richardson 

  • Pick and year: No. 3 overall, 2012 draft (Browns)
  • College: Alabama

Richardson was the man in college. Flat-out, unequivocally, the man. After consecutive seasons reaching the 700-yard mark at Alabama in the early-ish Nick Saban years, Richardson erupted in 2011 with nearly 1,700 yards and 21 touchdowns at close to 5.9 yards per attempt. He was compact, seemingly sculpted from stone, elusive, powerful, and decently fast. In a class that saw Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III go No. 1 and No. 2 overall, Richardson was universally lauded as a glorious pick by the Browns at No. 3 overall. 

After a strong rookie campaign, Richardson’s lack of between-the-tackles vision reared its ugly head. Injuries didn’t help the developmental process either. Soon he was traded to the Colts and once he ventured into the bust woods, he never returned. 

Robinson feels a lot safer than Richardson, right? RIGHT?! No, he is. But there are striking similarities between their frames, their collegiate careers and the adoration of them by the overwhelming majority of draft analysts. 

EDGE Will Anderson (Alabama)

Bust comparison: Derek Barnett

  • Pick and year: No. 14 overall, 2017 draft (Eagles)
  • College: Tennessee

Barnett was hardly a dud in Philadelphia. With the Eagles he registered two seasons with over 40 pressures and had 6.5 sacks in 2019 as a 23-year-old. But there are easy parallels to be drawn between Barnett and Anderson. Both were young, highly decorated, ultra-productive SEC pass rushers who entered the NFL right at about 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds with a slower-than-expected 40-yard dash time at their respective combine. 

Anderson was much faster (4.60) than Barnett (4.88). That matters. Their styles on the field were similar in college. Barnett won with deceptive speed and bend around the corner and an NFL-veteran array of pass rush moves. That’s the book on Anderson as well. If things go south — and injuries would almost assuredly need to factor in for this to happen — Anderson’s NFL career could conceivably look like Barnett’s in four or five years. 

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